Tag Archives: Transmission

Has the text of the Bible been corrupted during its translation?

First, let’s introduce New Testament scholar Daniel B. Wallace:

Daniel B. Wallace, Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary

B.A., Biola University, 1975; Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1979; Ph.D., 1995.

Dr. Wallace influences students across the country through his textbook on intermediate Greek grammar. It has become the standard textbook in the English-speaking world on that subject. He is a member of the Society of New Testament Studies, the Institute for Biblical Research, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the Evangelical Theological Society.

[…]He has been a consultant on four different Bible translations.

[…] He works extensively in textual criticism, and has founded The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (csntm.org), an institute with an initial purpose of preserving Scripture by taking digital photographs of all known Greek New Testament manuscripts.

[…]His postdoctoral work includes work on Greek grammar at Tyndale House in Cambridge, textual criticism studies at the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung in Münster, and the Universität Tübingen, Germany.

And here is an article by Dr. Wallace that corrects many misconceptions about the transmission and translation of the Testament.

He lists five in particular:

  • Myth 1: The Bible has been translated so many times we can’t possibly get back to the original.
  • Myth 2: Words in red indicate the exact words spoken by Jesus of Nazareth.
  • Myth 3: Heretics have severely corrupted the text.
  • Myth 4: Orthodox scribes have severely corrupted the text.
  • Myth 5: The deity of Christ was invented by emperor Constantine.

And here’s the detail on number one, which I think is important:

This myth involves a naïve understanding of what Bible translators actually did. It’s as if once they translated the text, they destroyed their exemplar! Sometimes folks think that translators who were following a tradition (such as the KJV and its descendants, the RV, ASV, RSV, NASB, NKJB, NRSV, and ESV) really did not translate at all but just tweaked the English. Or that somehow the manuscripts that the translators used are now lost entirely.

The reality is that we have almost no record of Christians destroying biblical manuscripts throughout the entire history of the Church. And those who translated in a tradition both examined the English and the original tongues. Decent scholars improved on the text as they compared notes and manuscripts. Finally, we still have almost all of the manuscripts that earlier English translators used. And we have many, many more as well. The KJV New Testament, for example, was essentially based on seven Greek manuscripts, dating no earlier than the eleventh century. Today we have about 5800 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, including those that the KJV translators used. And they date as early as the second century. So, as time goes on, we are actually getting closer to the originals, not farther away.

All the translations that we have today are one step away from the Greek originals. There is no chain of translations that was corrupted.

Check out the rest of the myths, especially for those who favor one Bible translation over others – you know who you are!

What do the Dead Sea Scrolls tell us about how the Bible was transmitted?

Here is another good post from Neil at 4Simpsons.


Many people – including some Christians – are quick to say that the Bible has been translated and changed so many times over the centuries that we don’t know what the original writings said.  For example, I saw a video clip where Deepak Chopra (alleged religious expert) claims that the King James was the 13th iteration of the Bible.

But contrary to that myth, the books of the Bible have only been translated once and the copying process was very robust, dependable and verifiable.

For example, Paul wrote in Greek, and we have Greek manuscripts to make translations from.  That is one translation.

Deepak Chopra!!! He knows less about religion than my keyboard!


But I digress. I wanted to say something about the reliability of the Bible.

The Dead Sea Scrolls

When we discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls, it contained some manuscripts that were 1000 years earlier than our previous copies. It provides an excellent test of written transmission, because you can compare the best copy we had with a copy that is 1000 years earlier, then see if there are any differences.

See here:


You know the children’s game called “telephone”? Some kid whispers a message to the kid next to him and it moves down the line until it emerges a garbled version of the original. It turns out the Bible is not like that. Despite endless translations and editions over the centuries, the original message appears to have emerged relatively unscathed. The Dead Sea Scrolls provided Old Testament manuscripts 1,000 years older than the previous oldest manuscript in existence. What the scrolls show is that the texts used at about the time of the destruction of the Second Temple, about 70 years after the death of Jesus, are almost the same as what we read today. Expert Weston W. Fields wrote: “The differences are neither theologically nor historically important. In general the scrolls testify to the amazing accuracy and great care with which ancient scribes passed along the biblical text.”

Too bad people like Deepak Chopra are so ignorant of such evidence.

Friday night funny: Obama to ban fully-automatic assault vehicles

Scott Ott at Scrappleface.com has the scoop on Obama’s plan to spur new vehicle sales. No, it’s isn’t lowering the sales tax on new vehicle sales, like communist China did. Obama likes taxes, and sometimes I think he is to the left of communists.

Oh no, Obama has an even better idea!


Since the Obama administration’s talk of banning so-called ‘assault weapons’ has resulted in a huge spike in semi-automatic weapon sales nationwide, the White House has recently begun a covert ‘whisper campaign’ suggesting the president might also ban U.S.-manufactured cars and trucks with fully-automatic transmissions, now dubbed ‘assault vehicles’.

President Obama reportedly hopes such chatter will give a much-needed boost to U.S. auto sales.

Happy Friday!